According to DSM-IV, passive-aggressive personality disorder is "often overtly ambivalent, wavering indecisively from one course of action to its opposite.They may follow an erratic path that causes endless wrangles with others and disappointment for themselves." Characteristic of these persons is an "intense conflict dependence on other and the desire for self-assertion." Although exhibiting superficial bravado, their self-confidence is often very poor, and others react to them with hostility and negativity.This diagnosis is not made if the behavior is exhibited during a major depressive episode or can be attributed to dysthymic disorder.
Other examples of passive-aggressive behavior might include avoiding direct or clear communication, evading problems, fear of intimacy or competition, making excuses, blaming others, obstructionism, playing the victim, feigning compliance with requests, sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and hiding anger.
According to Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man, a self-help book, a passive man does little to get what he wants as it is too much effort to do so, and ranges from the inept "loser" type to the conformist who does anything to be liked, avoids making waves and rarely says what he feels.
In conflict theory, passive-aggressive behavior can resemble a behavior better described as catty, as it consists of deliberate, active, but carefully veiled hostile acts which are distinctively different in character from the non-assertive style of passive resistance.
Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullen behavior, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
For research purposes, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) revision IV describes passive-aggressive personality disorder as a "pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations." In psychology, passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by a habitual pattern of passive resistance to expected work requirements, opposition, sullenness, stubbornness, and negative attitudes in response to requirements for normal performance levels expected of others.
Most frequently it occurs in the workplace where resistance is exhibited by such indirect behaviors as procrastination, forgetfulness, and purposeful inefficiency, especially in reaction to demands by authority figures, but it can also occur in interpersonal contexts.
Another source characterizes passive-aggressive behavior as: "A personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and characterized by passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to complying with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations.
Passive-aggressive behavior from workers and managers is damaging to team unity and productivity.
Warner in the ad for his online ebook says: "The worst case of passive-aggressive behavior involves destructive attitudes such as negativity, sullenness, resentment, procrastination, 'forgetting' to do something, chronic lateness, and intentional inefficiency." If this behavior is ignored it could result in decreased office efficiency and frustration among workers.